Yesterday, I noted that in 2017, teams that outrush their opponents have won 71% of games this season. That’s higher than the rate last season, but it’s generally in line with winning percentages over the last few years. In fact, for just about all of pro football history, teams have won around 73% of their games, plus or minus 5%. But if you look closely enough, you can see a bit of a decline over time. Take a look:
It’s no secret that being in the leads to more rushing, so it’s hardly surprising that teams with 7 out of every 10 games when they outrush their opponents. But is the declining trend — over decades, of course — noteworthy? Let’s compare that to what happens when teams win the passing yards battle.:
The trend is basically flat, and while there has been some variation throughout NFL history, teams win about 55% of the time when they gain more passing yards than their opponent. If anything, you might be surprised that the trend line isn’t increasing: after all, given that the passing game is more important than ever, you might think that teams that outpassed their opponent would have a better record now than in earlier eras in NFL history. That’s not quite the case. This year, teams that outgained their opponent in passing yards are 103-75 (0.579) so far.